Defensive driving is an important skill that drivers need to focus on in order to minimize their odds of causing or otherwise being involved in an auto accident. In a general sense, defensive driving is the practice of trying to anticipate other driver’s mistakes. Human error leads to most car accidents. Anticipating such errors coming can help motorists to avoid many kinds of crash scenarios.
How can you become a more effective defensive driver? Here are some tips to improve your defensive driving skills.
Watch other drivers closely, paying attention to both the road and the vehicles around you. Avoid distractions. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Never use a phone while driving. Anticipating mistakes starts with always being focused on the road.
Always use a safe following distance
Make sure to keep enough distance between your car and the vehicle ahead of you that you can stop safely if something unexpected happens. The general rule is to keep a gap of at least three seconds. When in adverse weather conditions, four or five seconds may be needed. Your following distance gives you more time to process information so that you can avoid hazards.
Use your mirrors
Check your rearview and side mirrors frequently to be aware of what’s happening behind and around your vehicle. Blind spots can be hazardous, hiding other vehicles, especially when changing lanes. It’s not just the traffic ahead of you that can be dangerous. Ideally, you should always be scanning the road and your mirrors to see exactly where other cars, pedestrians and cyclists are located.
Be extra cautious at intersections
Many accidents occur at intersections. Approach each one with caution. Remember that a stop sign is just a sign and a red light is just a light. Neither will actually stop a car. Taking an extra second to check whether someone is ignoring these cues when approaching from other directions, even when “your” light is green, could help you avoid a crash.
If you’re overly fatigued, have someone else drive for a while, or pull over for a nap or just a break. Fatigue can impair your judgment and reaction time. You’re also less likely to notice critical warning signs if you’re too tired.
These tips can help reduce accident odds and contribute to making everyone safer on the roads. Unfortunately, other negligent drivers may still cause crashes you cannot avoid. If so, be sure you know how to seek financial compensation from at-fault parties by seeking legal guidance.